Moss: 'I miss the hell out of them'

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Moss: 'I miss the hell out of them'

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO Randy Moss walked into his postgame press conference wearing an all-black Red Sox hat.

The notion, three weeks ago, was that Moss wanted out of New England and that's why he was traded to the Minnesota Vikings for a third-round draft pick. But following Sunday's 28-18 loss to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, Moss -- praising his former teammates, calling Bill Belichick "the best coach in football history" and saying he was brought to tears when the fans cheered him after the game -- sounded like anything but a guy who wanted a change of scenery.

Moss finished the game with only one reception for eight yards. The catch didn't come until the third quarter. And he was only targeted twice the entire afternoon.

Vikings quarterback Brett Favre said after the game that Randy Moss "isn't going to catch 10-12 passes a game" and that his presence, while being double-covered, has opened things up for Percy Harvin and has made Harvin a "better player."

That's the same type of strategy that some believed forced him to demand a trade out of New England. The idea that he was going to be used as nothing more than a decoy, and was only going to be targeted once or twice a game (like his last in a Patriots uniform, when he was only targeted once in Miami), during a contract year, was ludicrous, in his eyes.

But after being used the exact same way on Sunday against his former team, an emotional Moss poured his heart out to the same New England Patriots organization that he had asked to be traded from just weeks ago, while trying to keep his composure throughout the postgame press conference.

"I miss them guys, man. I miss the team," said Moss. "It was hard for me to come here and play. It's been an up-and-down roller coaster, emotionally, all week. And then to be able to come in here and see those guys run the plays that I know what they're doing, the success they had on the field, the running game. So I kind of know what type of feeling they had in their locker room, and I just want to be able to tell the guys that I miss the hell out of them, every last helmet in that locker room, man.

"Coach Bill Belichick, he gave me an opportunity to be a part of something special, and that's something I really take to heart. I actually salute Coach Belichick and his team for success they've had before me, during me, and after me.

"So I'm actually stuck for words, just because of the fact that, man, it's just a lot of memories here," added Moss. "And to the New England Patriots fans, that ovation at the end of the game" -- fans cheered Moss as he left the field, prompting him to go to the sidelines and wave to them -- "that really felt heart-warming. I think I actually shed a tear for that."

Moss sounded like a guy who wanted to be on the other side. Not just the winning side, but any side that the Patriots were on.

And to be fair, Moss has never criticized the Patriots organization. In his eyes, the trade was "strictly business." Nothing more, nothing less.

But on Sunday, Moss left New England with a salute and a Sox cap, and showed a whole lot more love to the same team that he didn't want to be a part of three weeks ago. He did so, while throwing a few jabs at his current Vikings team about how Sunday's game was played and coached.

"I tried to prepare," said Moss, who also disagreed with Brad Childress' decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 from the Patriots 1-yard line at the end of the first half. "I tried to talk to the players and coaches about how this game was going to be played, a couple tendencies here, a couple tendencies there. But the bad part about it, you have six days to prepare for a team, and on the seventh day, that Sunday, meaning today, I guess they come over to me and say, 'Dang Moss, you was right about this, about a couple plays and a couple schemes that they were gonna run.'

"It hurts, as a player, that you put a lot of hard work in all week, and toward the end of the week, Sunday, when you get on the field, that's when they acknowledge about the hard work you put in throughout the week. So it's actually a disappointment."

He said all this, while praising the Patriots for the way they handle their business on Sundays.

"All I can say is, man, it's a lot of work that we leave on the field each day," said Moss. "There's a lot of film study that we leave in that room each day. I know how hard these guys work here in New England. And the only thing that I really tried to do was, take what the best coach in football history has brought upon me, or the knowledge that he's given me about the game of football, and I tried to just sprinkle enough to the guys the best way I know how."

He's tried. But on Sunday, Moss realized that maybe asking out was a mistake. That maybe, being used as a decoy wasn't something that was just going to happen in New England. And that if he was going to be used as a decoy in his contract year, he might as well have been a decoy on a 6-1 Patriots team, and not on a 2-5 Vikings team that doesn't listen to his advice and has a quarterback and coach that don't really see eye-to-eye.

Moss isn't walking back through that door. And because of that, he realizes that maybe he messed up.

"I don't know how many more times I'm going to be up here in New England, but I'm leaving the New England Patriots and Coach Belichick, man, with a salute, man," said Moss as he concluded his five-minute statement to the media without taking questions. "I love you guys. I miss ya'll. I'm out."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard

Belichick impressed by rookie Thuney's work at left guard

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Belichick impressed by rookie Thuney's work at left guard

FOXBORO -- Joe Thuney may not have won the starting left guard job officially, but Bill Belichick says he's on the right track. And for a rookie, that's feat in and of itself.

The third-round pick out of North Carolina State -- you may remember it as the Kevin-Faulk-in-the-No.-12-jersey selection -- has been the first-team left guard since the start of training camp, and he hasn't moved since. Thuney has occasionally taken snaps at center, and the Patriots have him learning multiple spots behind the scenes. But every time Nate Solder has run on to the field as the left tackle, Thuney has been there by his side at guard. 

Even going back to OTAs, held not long after he was drafted, Thuney was the top choice at that position. 

"Joe has done a good job with what we’ve given him," Belichick said. "There was a point where we felt comfortable making that, I’d say temporary move, It wasn’t permanent. But he has handled it well. I think he’s certainly moving towards being able to lock something down at some point. I don’t think we’re there yet, but I think he is certainly gaining on it. He has had a good preseason, had a good spring."

What once may have been deemed a temporary move back in the spring -- perhaps due to players like Shaq Mason, Tre' Jackson and Josh Kline dealing with injuries early in the offseason -- now seems like it should be a permanent one.

Thuney's run as the No. 1 left guard has been uninterrupted because his performance hasn't warranted a change. He's held his own against former first-round defensive tackle Malcom Brown in one-on-one practice drills, and he's been the highest-graded player on the Patriots offensive line through two preseason games, per Pro Football Focus. (The only players with higher grades on the team through two games are tight end AJ Derby and defensive end Trey Flowers.)

The man who went viral before the draft for his ability to solve a Rubik's cube in just over a minute has flashed an understanding of how quickly things move on the inside. Plus, playing under unretired offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, Thuney has been quick himself, both picking up pressures and working to the second level in the running game with aplomb.

Thuney will still have a preseason game or two to solidify his grasp on a starting role, but even for the brief period during which Mason and Kline were simultaneously healthy, Thuney was the choice on the left side of the interior offensive line. Now that Mason is dealing with what's been reported as a hand injury, Jackson remains on PUP, and Jonathan Cooper is still out after suffering a foot injury early in camp, the job seems like Thuney's to lose.

That Belichick even hinted Thuney is "gaining on it" is an indication of just how impressive he's been during his short time as a pro.